Trailblazer Artist Julie Bonner Voyage Phoenix Magazine
Meet Trailblazer Artist Julie Bonner by Voyage Phoenix Magazine

“Today we’d like to introduce you to Artist Julie Bonner.

Julie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was an artistic child. I drew on any paper within reach and made hand-made greeting cards for my friends. My parents, Ray and Jane were teachers who supported my vision with encouraging words. I painted a mural in my middle school and earned my first freelance graphic design job in high-school.

After earning my bachelors in Graphic Design from Drexel University and a Masters in Business, I opened up my own creative studio. Since 2005, I’ve been helping Arizona organizations with their branding and marketing.

Today, I love combining painting with design to create new educational products for my Artist Julie Bonner/Julie Originals line.

I will always love art – my zen moment is when I am putting paint on the canvas and I’m in the moment!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Developing your own product has its challenges. I started this project when my son was one. This meant I had to be very efficient and I painted during his naps. When he woke up – I had to stop. This also means that sometimes you are tired and the house is a mess. Not everything needs to be perfect – but getting to work on a dream project that combines your love of animals, painting, and your child feels pretty perfect.

Another challenge is once you actually have your product complete – you still need to promote it. The project is not over. Whether it’s participating in art markets and festivals or promoting your online store. There is a direct correlation to my sales based on how much time I’m investing to getting the word out and connecting to retailers and customers. I’d say this speaks to the misconception of wow you make a product – you’re done!

Advice to young women starting their journey is that you do not need to know how to do everything. But you do need to ask for help when you don’t know. Surrounding yourselves with people that have taken risks, and have reached their goals is imperative. Being comfortable asking others how they achieved their feats. Asking the people you look up to for help, while also offering your services to them.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Julie Originals – what should we know?
I’m known for blending painting with her design expertise to create the Award-Winning
Desert Dwellers Flash Cards. I created the cards to teach my son, Syver, about the amazing surrounding
desert wildlife.

It’s a set of 26 artistic flash cards that includes a desert animal and letter on the front and fascinating facts and stories on the back. Each set also includes more engaging questions and an activity card with fun games you can play!

My son inspired me when he was a toddler to make these because I was teaching him the alphabet and realized that most A, B, C, cards were uninspired. I chose to paint 26 desert animals to include in the set – animals that we see in Arizona!

Now, he is 7 years old and is reading entire books and recently wrote and illustrated his own story about an Anna’s Hummingbird! He has an entrepreneurial spirit and I’m glad that he has been part of my experience from day one!

I’m also proud of making this idea into a reality. From the concept to planning, painting, prototyping the box, and selling it – I can look back and be very proud of it. A highlight is happy kids and Moms and teachers sharing photos and stories about how they are enjoying using Desert Dwellers Flash Cards. That is rewarding!

Which women have inspired you in your life?
My Mom (Jane Kintz) – She was a second-grade teacher for 35 years in New York. She has a Master’s in Child Literacy and Education. My Mom and Dad both read to me and were educators. I think this inspired me to want to use my art as a tool to promote education and literacy.

Diana Madaras – An Arizona Artist with a background in business. While I was painting my Desert Dwellers series, I reached out to Diana because of her experience in selling and promoting her art. Her marketing and business sense was very helpful as I was developing my own product. I offered to help her with graphic design, and PR in exchange, I learned a lot about creating wholesale art products from her.”

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